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Why, when and how to write a cover letter

We get asked about cover letters all the time.  Why do candidates need them, when should I write one and how do I do it?  Hopefully, the following will help you out.

Why…

A covering letter can help tell a potential employer who you are and explain why they should want you.  This should be in your CV too however, this letter should be more in-depth than the summary on the CV.  Remember a good CV should only be 2 pages of A4  (or 1 double sided) – read how to write one here.

You can use a covering letter to explain more about your experiences, interests, strengths, and abilities.  It also shows that you can communicate well because, again, a CV is short and sweet.

A covering letter also shows an employer that you are really serious about trying to get the job.  Putting in the effort to get an interview really shows that you are keen and engaged.  With a little research, the letter can take your experiences and let the reader know you know what you are doing and are perfect for the role.

When…

In short, you should write a covering letter for each role you apply for.  They should all be tailored to the specific roles you are applying for, but you can try and keep them similar so you don’t have to rewrite it every time.  Really, it’s up to you when you send one with your CV and submission, but we would suggest unless the job is advertised saying, “Don’t send a covering letter” then send one.  If you are still unsure and it’s a role we’re recruiting for here at i2i Recruitment, then ask us.

How…

Researching the role and company is vital.  Knowing your audience and writing specifically for them means you will be able to grab their interest, increasing the chance they will read your CV next.

Use the job description in order to help structure your letter, relating personal experiences to job responsibilities.  At the very start or end of the letter, don’t forget to actually express interest in the role.  This can be as simple as saying, “I’m writing to express interest and apply for your job, the [job role].”

Keep the covering letter short and sweet – just not as short and sweet as your CV.  Checking around the office, we believe about 1 page of A4 is about right.

And lastly, check, check and check again.  This is one of the most repeated things in our guides.  Sending letters or CVs to a company you want to work for with spelling or grammar mistakes or that just purely doesn’t make sense is bad and a recruiter may not read further than these mistakes.

Good luck!